The Senator by Ken Fite— quick review and commentary

VFR

No kickstart on this VFR

The Senator: A Blake Jordan Thriller is the beginning of a series, which now has two other entries, and it can be read as a stand-alone, but it does a good job of introducing the federal agent, Blake Jordan, character.

This contemporary novel begins as Senator James Keller is set to receive his party’s nomination for President of the United States, but he doesn’t make his acceptance speech because a kidnapper manages to abduct him right before he enters the arena where his party awaits him. His protection detail is headed by ex-Navy SEAL and federal agent Blake Jordan. The action moves quickly between the senator and the agent, who wants to find Keller before something worse happens, and the suspense never lets up. (I like that!)

I noted that some reviewers on Amazon mentioned that the novel wasn’t entirely realistic. I agree, and here is an example: A character, wanting to be stealthy, walks his sport bike (a Honda VFR) out of an alley onto a main road and then the rider kickstarts it before roaring away. Okay, an experienced and strong rider might have no issues with walking a full sized bike for a ways, but it is a chore. Worse, I’m pretty sure Honda hasn’t put a kickstart on a full sized sport bike in about 30 years, and I have never seen a VFR with one. I didn’t stop reading at that point, but I did have a moment of doubt. The old saying is “write what you know” so I began wondering what else the author didn’t know, or failed to research, which was a distraction for me. However, the novel is quite suspenseful, and many readers would not be bothered by this minor glitch in regards to motorcycle matters.

Ken Fite is a new author for me, and while he did stretch my “willing disbelief” a time or two, I would not be averse to reading more of his fiction. The Senator is available for the Kindle, and as of this post, is $2.99, which is a bargain, for sure.

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About that new page— WIP

Pam on Dragon webI’m always writing something, but I don’t always publish what I write. Sometimes I write letters (sent and unsent) or emails or fragments. I suppose most people do that. But, I also have manuscripts in progress, and sometimes I get bogged down with those because I truly don’t know if there would be any interest in them. So, I am going to try posting a few excerpts, and if the traffic and/or comments indicate interest, the encouragement might be enough to push me out of procrastination and into finishing mode.

The first WIP is actually one of the most recent, a non-fiction book about motorcycle touring. My first thought was to publish an e-booklet on restaurants in my neck of the woods. Then I thought about creating a blog on motorcycle touring. After a bit more consideration, I asked hubby to read and comment on a manuscript that combines the two topics into one, which is currently at about 7K words. If I go with the original plan, this will be one of a series of short ebooks, which might look like this:

Ride to Eat— in Northeastern Georgia

Ride to Eat— in Western North Carolina

Ride to Eat— in Middle Georgia

As it stands now, the writing part is going fairly well, but I need to add maps, and that is a bit of an issue for an ebook, but I’m still working on it.

Weight loss apps— my experience

scaleI guess the subtitle is Weight Watchers vs. My Fitness Pal, as those are the only two I have used enough to review in a meaningful manner.

Quite a long time back, I went to Weight Watchers and lost a goodly amount of weight, but I didn’t reach any goal. My thought at the time was that I had learned so much that I would be able to maintain my loss, and for a time I was somewhat successful. Fast forward a decade plus, and I was shopping the big girl’s section, which wasn’t much fun. Also, I became seriously concerned about the health effects of carrying so much extra weight around.

So, I joined Weight Watchers again, and wow, had things changed. Everyone was using the “app” and the meetings were half as long as before, because things were so high-tech. But, the core principles are the same: foods are assigned points, based on both calories and how “healthy” they are, and users are assigned a point target, based on certain individual criteria. Instead of looking up point values in a book, as we did before, the app can assist, even allowing users to scan a bar code on a package. (I don’t use that feature much, because fresh foods like blackberries and tomatoes do not have bar codes.) Anyway, the program works, and I lost even more weight than I did the first time, albeit over a longer period of time. (Maturity sucks.)

As I was losing, hubby lost quite a bit, too. He and his doctor were happy with the change, so hubby decided to go “all in” on weight loss, but he was not about to pay for it. So, he decided to try the “My Fitness Pal” app, as the basic version is free, and it works quite well. Since I do most of the cooking, he was always asking me for assistance in recording his food intake, which weight loss programs call “tracking,” so I ended up doing both WW and MFP for a few months. I’m currently still at my goal weight, which means as a lifetime member, I can use the WW app for free, but instead I am using MFP.

Both apps are very good, but for losing weight and learning how to do that, I would certainly stick with the WW app. By weighting (pun intended) certain foods, the app not only tracks users, but steers them toward healthy eating habits and better portion control. One excellent feature of the WW app is the recipes, which help users come up with a healthy recipe for whatever ingredients are entered. So, if I see pork tenderloin on sale, I can open the app and summon several healthy recipes right on my phone or iPad. However, the nutrition reports offered by the MFP app does a much better job of showing excesses or deficiencies in what I’ve been eating. For instance, I’ve been using MFP to help me keep up with how much protein I am eating, as I am a serious carb lover, and I might eat too many carbs and too little protein without those handy reports.

In our high tech world, it is quite easy to eat too much and move too little, so apps such as Weight Watchers and My Fitness Pal are very helpful.

“Current Events Day”

coachWhen my kids were kids, I often assisted with homework, but I made a tactical error and told them I’d actually do any thing we determined to be “busy work.” (At the time, I still believed in the integrity of most educators.) My daughter had a couple of coach/ social studies teachers in high school who would set aside one day a week for “current events” which basically meant the students were to bring in a news story and read it to the class. There were absolutely no criteria assigned, nor was there any grade. Since the teacher was just using this instead of doing any work himself, this qualified as a mom task, and I decided to use the weirdest items I could find.

As it is has been a while since my kids were in school, I no longer read so much weird news, but sometimes a headline just grabs my attention. So, I just read a news story which would have made the cut for current events day at JHS. What do y’all think of this one? Call 911!

Because it is the right thing to do.

Once upon a time, I owned an iBook, so well-used that I was on my third keyboard when the hinge broke, damaging the case as it blew out. Having purchased AppleCare, I was not too upset, until some Apple Genius told me that I had dropped it and caused the damage, and Apple wouldn’t pay for accidental damage. After a few days of phone calls, trips to Apple service centers, emails to various officials at Apple, and many hours of trying to get my computer fixed (at no charge) some guy named Steve called me from Apple. He listened to my tale of woe, and said that Apple was not contractually obligated to pay for my computer, but that they were going to do so anyway, “because it is the right thing to do.” And so they did.

Since the dude on the phone didn’t use his last name, I don’t know for sure if I spoke with the head honcho of Apple or not, but after having read Job’s biography, I wonder. At several points in the book, Steve Jobs did what he believed to be right, even if everyone else thought it was wrong. Despite being a jerk, he was a person who wanted to produce great products and put them in the hands of people. Each iteration of Macintosh computers have been simple to use and as elegantly designed as possible, because Steve Jobs had a vision of what the personal computer should be. The iPod and the iTunes store work together seamlessly, because Jobs loved music. The iPhone is unparalleled because Jobs wanted a phone that was better than what he could buy. The iPad is mobile computing at its best, because  Jobs made the deals that made it possible. Indeed, Jobs had several talents, and even some of his personality flaws contributed to his success. Like a coach who is both loved and feared, Jobs was able to get people to do more than they ever dreamed possible. Apple, despite being the most valuable company in the world, continued to have the flexibility to capitalize on opportunities, because there was one strong mind at the helm.

Was he a genius? I think so. Was he a jerk? At times. Was he a criminal? Some tabloids say he was, but I view him as merely eccentric. Did he have a real life? I hope so, but Walter Issacson’s biography of Jobs is roughly 75% about Apple (and Next), and what Jobs did there, including too much information about office politics. Perhaps another 10% is about his time as  head of Pixar.  Since Jobs’ widow and offspring were no doubt in the midst of mourning when this book was released, I suppose that it is too much to ask for more details about his family life. Was he in the delivery room when his kids were born? I don’t know. Did he ever attend a PTA meeting? I don’t know.

Having read quite a number of articles and even a few books about Apple and its products, I found some of Issacson’s book to be tedious. But, for anyone who didn’t know much about Jobs, the biography is quite enlightening. Jobs’s adoptive father was a strong influence on him, but so was his interest in eastern religion. He’s one of the more famous college dropouts of his era, and that, too, is relayed in terms of how it helped him at Apple. Jobs was more artist than engineer, more salesman than CEO, but his insistence on doing things his way was more often “right” than “wrong” and the world is a far different place than it would have been had he not lived. No, really. Imagine our world with clunky IBM based computers, no iPod, iPhone, iTunes, iPad, and no products which copy those technologies. Steve Jobs said he wanted to change the world, and he did.

That’s quite a legacy, and one worth reading about. If you haven’t yet read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, it is well worth the time it takes.